Nat’l Geo channels hot

SYDNEY — Just six weeks after launching in Australia and the U.K., National Geographic’s first branded channels are among the most popular on the U.K.’s British Sky Broadcasting and Oz’s Foxtel feevee platforms, spurring a deal for South African carriage.

It is understood the National Geographic Channel (NGC) is Foxtel’s third-most-watched service, although interestingly, NGC’s showy debut has not come at the expense of rival service Discovery, which also airs on Foxtel.

“There is an incredible appetite for documentaries,” U.K.-based NGC managing director Jerry Glover told Daily Variety during a visit to Sydney, refusing to comment about rumors that NGC is mulling further Oz distribution, possibly on powerful rural paybox Austar.

But Glover did say the strong debuts helped clinch a deal for NGC to bow in April on South Africa’s M-Net platform. And he confirmed that plans previously outlined by NGC prexy Sandy McGovern to bow Spanish and Portuguese soundtrack channels next year in South America — which will be exported to the Iberian peninsula — are on track.

The Oz-U.K. services are jointly owned by Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB and National Geographic Channels, a co-venture between Washington’s National Geographic TV and General Electric’s NBC, which retains editorial control.

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